Financial aid earmarked for Halkidiki, as death toll rises to seven

Financial aid earmarked for Halkidiki, as death toll rises to seven

Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said on Thursday financial aid will be offered to the three municipalities of Halkidiki to assist with the reconstruction efforts, following the freak storms which pummelled the region on Wednesday night.

The death toll rose to seven on Thursday after the body of a man was found in an area between Sozopoli and Nea Kallikratia. Forensic experts will examine whether it belongs to the 62-year-old fisherman who went missing in the sea area of Kallikrateia on Wednesday night.

Petsas said the cell broadcast service that would deliver public warning messages on mobile phones is not yet operational in Greece, adding it is the government’s priority to activate it.

A Romanian woman and an 8-year-old boy died after a roof collapsed on a restaurant in Nea Plagia, and a Russian man and a young boy were killed after a tree collapsed near their hotel in the seaside town of Potidea. Elsewhere, two elderly Czech tourists were killed when strong winds and water swept away their travel trailer.

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias expressed his “warmest condolences and deep sorrow” to the families and friends of the victims, and solidarity with local residents, saying crews are working to restore the damages as soon as possible.

The foreign ministry said in a statement it remained in constant contact with all the embassies whose nationals were affected by the tragedy.

Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, who is coordinating recovery efforts, said crews are working around the clock to restore damages and electricity in the affected areas.

“We will will do all we can as a country to stand in solidarity with those people who lost family members,” he said after an emergency meeting held early Thursday morning in Halkidiki and hailed the “tireless” crews working to restore electricity and remove fallen trees and objects form the road network.

Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos told a radio station said the army will assist local authorities in clearing out the debris.

“The Armed Forces are ready to transfer machinery to repair damages. We will offer generators until power is restored in the first peninsula,” he said.

Nine people remained hospitalized in Papanikolaou hospital in Thessaloniki with injuries caused during the storm, one of which is in the intensive care unit. Three children and one teenager who were injured by objects swept away by the winds are being treated at the Gennimatas hospital.

Roofs of houses and shops were swept away by the gale-force winds, cars were destroyed, signs collapsed and trees were uprooted during the storm which local residents say did not last long, but described as severe.

Fire services worked all night and Thursday morning to rescue people trapped under debris, pump water from houses and shops and cut trees. In total, the service received over 600 calls and intervened in 235 incidents, according to an announcement.

About 80 percent of the Halkidiki peninsula, a region popular with tourists in the summer, remained without power, according to the head of the union of Public Power Corporation employees (GENOP).

“Huge problems were created by the collapse of a utility pole of power grid operator ADMIE on the national highway,” Giorgos Adamidis told Skai channel, adding that about 100 crew members are working to restore electricity in the area.

Adamidis said he expected power to return in most areas by Thursday night.

Authorities in the Region of Central Macedonia had started recording damages to infrastructure, houses and businesses.

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